Should Israelis Be Declaring Victory After Today's Summit?
September 22, 2009

After much anticipation of this week's meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmud Abbas, early reports indicate that President Obama spent most of his time "sternly urging Israeli and Palestinian leaders to do more to make Mideast peace talks possible." It's an unimpressive message from a president that has been urging the sides "to do more" for quite a while now, to no avail. Israel has refused the "total settlement freeze" that U.S.

Afghanistan: The Endurance Argument
September 22, 2009

In his Senate floor statement yesterday, Republican leader Mitch McConnell had this to say: For the sake of our long-term security, we should support the McChrystal Plan. Anything less would confirm Al Qaeda’s view that America lacks the strength and the resolve to endure a long war. We’ve proved them wrong before. Let’s prove them wrong again. I've blogged previously about the line of thinking which says we must defeat al Qaeda in Afghanistan basically to show that we can. I think it's more influential at high leves than people realize.

Pro-Book Burning Anti-Semite Loses UNESCO Bid
September 22, 2009

This just in: A career diplomat from Bulgaria won a suspenseful and drawn-out race to lead the U.N. agency for culture and education on Tuesday, beating out an Egyptian candidate whose one-time threat to burn Israeli books had galvanized opposition.... In a fifth round of secret balloting Tuesday, Bulgaria's ambassador to France, Irina Bokova, defeated Egyptian Culture Minister Farouk Hosny for the leadership of UNESCO.

New Poll: Strong US Support for Beating Taliban
September 22, 2009

Check out the new Pew poll about Afghanistan. Most Americans don't believe things are going well there, and support for withdrawal is rising. But a surprisingly high number still believe strongly in the basic objective: Nonetheless, a sizable majority of the public (76%) views the possibility of the Taliban regaining control of Afghanistan as a major threat to the well-being of the United States.

Can We Deter the Taliban?
September 22, 2009

Josh Marshall is the latest prominent liberal commentator to come out against an all-out engagement in Afghanistan. Along the way, he makes this point: But even if the Taliban again ruled the country, it's difficult to imagine that with our forces in the region and our army of drones, we'd have much problem raining down a ton of ordinance the first time they really put up their head. I think it's a good one. In late 2001 we demonstrated for the Taliban the consequences of an al Qaeda attack originating from the safe haven they provided.

The Afghanistan Leak Game
September 22, 2009

Michael "Mission Creep Watch" Cohen takes issue with my last print piece, which foreshadowed the growing tension between the White House and some Pentagon officials over Afghanistan troop levels. Whereas I warned the Obama team against the temptation of setting an ambitious mission while limiting painful troop increases--much as George W.

The Limits of Afghanistan Analogies
September 22, 2009

Last week, Taliban leader Mullah Omar issued a taunting statement warning America about its prospects in Afghanistan. Here's a choice excerpt: The former Soviet Union claimed, the Red Army was invincible but faced defeat at the hands of the Afghans and completely disintegrated. Many other countries got independence thanks to that. Today USA, the Britain and their allies are bent on subjugating Afghanistan. They are in a total self-delusion and their brain seems not working normally. This is a season of historical analogies.

Dying For Barge Matal
September 22, 2009

This is the sort of thing that's awfully hard to explain to the American people: In early July, Afghan President Hamid Karzai asked senior U.S. officials to dispatch a company of about 100 U.S. soldiers to Barge Matal, a village in the northern half of the province that is home to fewer than 500 people. Taliban insurgents had overrun the community and Karzai was insistent that that U.S. and Afghan forces wrest it back from the enemy. "I don't think anyone in the U.S.

For Your Protection
September 22, 2009

Earlier this month, Barack Obama apparently completed an anti-free-market trifecta, adding "protectionist" to a rap sheet that already included "deficit spender" and "serial nationalizer." And not just any protectionist, mind you. In the words of former Bush spokesman Tony Fratto, Obama will hereafter be known as "the president who ‘lost' trade for America." The following day, the Wall Street Journal editorial page elaborated: "America now has its first protectionist President since Herbert Hoover." So what did Obama do to earn this unsavory distinction?

Afghanistan: The Petraeus Factor
September 21, 2009

Largely invisible in the current debate over troop levels in Afghanistan, which has exposed some stress fractures between the Obama White House and the Pentagon, is Centcom commander David Petraeus. Given his immense credibility as the man perceived to have "saved" Iraq, Petraeus could have a potentially decisive influence on a domestic political debate about troop levels by making his own assessment known. But, while Petraeus's commentary about Iraq was once ubiquitous, today he's laying awfully low.